One Man's Hairy Journey Makes Us Contemplate Whether The Beard's Moment Is Almost up

If you don't know Alex Williams from his awesome articles in The New York Times, then you probably know him as Joanna Goddard's bearded and bespectacled husband who pops up in her blog, often holding their so-cute-it-hurts son, Toby. Although we've already shed the spotlight on Mr. Williams before in our Fathers Day post, this recent article about his personal journey of growing a beard and the new significance of beards in today's culture really drew our attention. Since you can't walk down the street in New York (and especially in Brooklyn) without seeing a dozen young men in skinny Acnes sporting full-on face-fringe, it's easy to forget that the beard was once reserved for the aged and wise. As Williams points out, the beard today has become a symbol for youthfulness, creativity, and a certain type of rugged manliness that "makes you feel two inches taller, and 10 pounds burlier." What is most interesting, however, is the uncomfortable transformation Williams felt when he first decided to keep his bristles around. From the awkward, itchy, patchy stage, to not recognizing yourself in the mirror, to dealing with your friends not-so-subtly mentioning that it might not be the greatest look, Williams outlines all the ways that growing a beard changes your identity and becomes "a mask as much as a fashion accessory, hiding the "you" that everyone knows as you and replacing it with whatever they happen to associate with the phrase 'guys with beards.' " And while Williams ultimately finds youthful empowerment in his facial hair, he's got lingering doubts that the fascination may fade again next year. Though we're positive that the beard will always be grandfathers' favorite accessories, we can't help but wonder if and when young men will tire of the woodsy look and if unshaven faces will once again be the norm. Speak up—are you a beard fan or is smooth the way to go? How much longer do you think beards will be popular? What do you associate with the phrase "guys with beards"? Give us all the hairy details!
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